1. Make the company’s successes their successes
If you have the good fortune to run your own business, you should try to be the boss you always wanted. One way you can do this is by ensuring that when the company secures a client you’ve been courting for a while, or your team makes an important sale, for example, they are given credit for their work, and if possible, rewarded.
Of course, most small businesses can’t afford to pay their employees bonuses, but there are many ways to reward your employees that are easy on the wallet:
- Take them out for a cheap but pleasant lunch if your team is very small
- If your team is bigger and that is not feasible, keep costs low by ordering in sandwiches from a local deli and a few bottles of soda
- If that's not possible, bring in donuts to share with everyone one morning, and have a 30-minute coffee and donut ‘social’
- If you can't afford to spend anything, a handwritten note or formal email acknowledging an individual’s effort will go a long way
The point is, your team should see a difference when their efforts pay off and feel the same thrill you feel when the company has a success.
2. Remain calm and positive
Never let your mood get the better of you and never act in a way you would be ashamed of if others were to witness it. Never ever lose your temper with employees – it doesn't work and it doesn't motivate. Losing your temper goes hand in hand with losing control and losing respect.
As the owner of the business, it is your job to set an example of the kind of culture you want to cultivate in the workplace. A negative culture where people are in fear of being yelled at is not the kind of environment where motivation and genuine hard work thrives.
3. Don't punish your staff for mistakes or failures
If someone dropped the ball, find what happened with a few incisive questions. Encourage them to be honest and to explain what went wrong. Ask them to consider what could have been done differently and show them if they can't figure out what they did wrong. Don't blame or guilt trip them – instead, work out a plan for damage control with the employee and ask them to implement and take responsibility for this.
4. Don't micromanage
This can be difficult, particularly for small business owners. After all, your business is your baby you have nurtured and grown largely on your own. However, you made a decision to place confidence in your team when you hired them. Trust that you made a good decision. Set clear, realistic goals and then give your staff the space and authority to achieve them and do the best they can for your business. Micromanaging is a pet peeve of many employees and can be very draining for both you and them.
Ultimately, treat your staff as you would wish to be treated – with respect. When they make mistakes, help them learn. When they set to work, give them space. When they succeed, reward them. This will lead to a positive working culture and more motivated employees.